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Madi quits Westminster Foundation over Palestine issue

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By Omar Bah

Madi Jobarteh has confirmed to The Standard yesterday that he has parted ways with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

Mr Jobarteh has, for the past years, served as the country director for the UK public body dedicated to “supporting democracy” around the world.

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The foundation recently announced it is looking for a new country director to lead on the strategic development and management of its programmes in The Gambia, prompting speculation that Madi Jobarteh was sacked.

But when contacted for comments on the circumstances surrounding his departure, Madi Jobarteh said, “I didn’t submit a resignation letter. We just signed a mutual separation agreement. We parted ways because we had disagreements, and for me, it’s about my position on the Israel-Palestine issue. I stand for the total and immediate end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the prosecution of all Israeli actors across Israeli society responsible for the occupation, human rights violations, and the genocide of Palestinians. Palestine must be free and independent and enjoy the same democracy that the UK and Israel like to proclaim around the world. Furthermore, I take it that the UK, above all else, must be held responsible for this conflict since they were the colonial power in Palestine and also because they were the ones who granted Palestine as a home for Jews in 1917.”

Mr Jobarteh said the British government’s Balfour Declaration of 1917 affirmed that the rights of the Palestinian people were not to be damaged or taken away but to be respected and protected.

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“But since then, the UK has failed to ensure that the new state of Israel abides by the terms of that Declaration or the subsequent UN resolutions that formally created Israel, in which the rights of Palestinians were recognised, expressed, and guaranteed. Instead, the UK and its Western allies, the US and EU countries, consciously and deliberately provided arms to Israel to occupy and violate Palestinians while blocking any UN or other international efforts to bring about a free and independent Palestinian nation and state. As a colonised victim myself, I cannot stand by to watch the worst form of colonialism and apartheid being perpetuated on other people and remain silent about it,” he stated.

He said the UK and WFD claim to promote democracy around the world, hence, they bear responsibility to ensure democracy prevails everywhere, including in Israel and Palestine.

“These are my issues, which I have raised with them. I am glad that I have left with my conscience intact. The struggle for democracy continues. But let me say that it was a great opportunity to work with WFD for five years, during which we did amazing work with the National Assembly, civil society, political parties, and indeed with various local and central government institutions in promoting democracy. The need to continue strengthening democracy in The Gambia and across the world is necessary in order to institutionalise good governance systems and practices to attain not only the highest standard of living for all but also guarantee justice, equality, peace, security, and freedom for all regardless. I stand on that journey unabated,” he concluded.

WFD is sponsored by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

The country director is in charge of the overall operational and programmatic functioning of the country office in The Gambia.

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